My mom and I watched Farrah Fawcett’s documentary the other night and much of it hit home with me. It was painful to watch since my grandfather died as a result of an awful battle with cancer. While my disease is different, I can relate on a number of levels to Farrah.
I, too, have endured much pain and was even prescribed Methotrexate (which originated as a cancer drug) as a teen. I will never forget every Wednesday night while I watched Beverly Hills 90210 trying to disguise the pills in Oreo cookies as if I would somehow forget that I was taking them. And it was never long before I found myself throwing up in the bathroom due to the effects of the medication. It was a horrible feeling and a horrible period in my life.
I could also relate when Farrah said she doesn’t recognize her body anymore as a result of the disease and treatments. While I’ve had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis most of my life, I have always felt like an “alien” in my own body. Some days, I refer to myself as a 90-year-old trapped inside a 29-year-old’s body. But then I look at my neighbor who is about that age and I realize I’m wrong—I’m in worse shape, crippled by the disease and almost always in pain. I envy her as I watch her kneeling in her yard pulling weeds and trimming the bushes. I haven’t been able to kneel since I was about 7, and I’ve never been able to tend to our lawn. It’s sad when even the most mundane chores seem desirable simply because you can’t do them. Then the self-pity kicks in even more and I start to resent that I will likely die having never had the chance to mow the lawn, or ride a bicycle, or even walk down the aisle to meet that knight in shining armor. (Did I mention most guys can’t look past the wheelchair?)
And while most days I try to focus on the bright side of life, the tough reality of living with arthritis that so many people are unaware of is one that I can never ignore.